Methylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9) is a hallmark of transcriptionally inactive heterochromatin that is deregulated in pathological conditions. A new study shows that complete loss of H3K9 methylation in Caenorhabditis elegans leads to derepression of repetitive elements and formation of DNA:RNA hybrids (R loops), resulting in increased rates of repeat-specific mutation.
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Salcini, A. Dangerous R loops form in the absence of H3K9 methylation. Nat Genet 48, 1299–1300 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.3705